cover image The Last Campaign

The Last Campaign

Martin L. Shoemaker. 47North, $14.95 trade paper (356p) ISBN 978-1-5420-9140-4

If space is the final frontier, then Mars is the Old West in Shoemaker’s realistic and carefully plotted murder mystery set on the Red Planet. The colony of Maxwell City is experiencing growing pains, and its mayor, facing reelection, names former admiral Rosalia Morais as the settlement’s first ever sheriff. Rosalia is immediately immersed in a series of deaths, arson, and insurance frauds that trace back to Maxwell City’s wealthy elite as well as corrupt elements inside her own recently established police force. She has to balance the political demands of the mayor’s nervous chief of staff, the muckraking of a predatory reporter, and her own devotion to duty, while appeasing the competing needs of her overly helpful investigator husband and her ex-fiancé, the colony’s coroner. Shoemaker (Today I Remember) paints a vivid picture of daily life in the Martian colony, including poignant quotidian details like how one Jewish family, spread across Earth and Mars, find a way to sit shiva together. The wonders and dangers of living in space are grounded in the grit of Martian sand and the procedural mysteries that could just as easily have taken place on Earth as in space. This is smart, subtle speculative fiction. Agent: David Fugate, LaunchBooks Literary. (Oct.)